The number of metropolitan areas on the list of improving housing markets increased to 103 in September, an increase of four from the August tally and the largest number in the one year history of the list.  A total of 33 states and the District of Columbia are represented on the list published by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and First American Title Insurance Company. 

To be included on the list, a metropolitan area must have shown six consecutive months of improvement from its recession trough in each of three categories, housing permits as referenced by the U.S. Census Department, employment according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and home prices from Freddie Mac data.   

Only seven MSAs fell off the list in September compared to nine in July and 12 in August.  Eleven new housing markets including geographically diverse locations such as Santa Cruz, California; Pocatello, Idaho; and Savannah, Georgia, and 92 MSA maintained their positions on the list.

Barry Rutenberg, chairman of NAHB noted the stability of the September list, saying, "This is an encouraging sign that the housing recovery is proceeding at a steady pace as firming prices and employment help spur new building activity, which in turn generates new jobs and more home sales."

"The fact that most markets are maintaining their spots on the improving list from month to month is an important indication that the recovery trend is solidifying," agreed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "At the same time, overly tight credit conditions are certainly constraining consumers' ability to purchase homes as well as builders' ability to construct them."

"The expansion of the improving markets list to more than 100 metros marks an important milestone on the road to recovery," noted Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman at First American Title. "For potential buyers across the country, it is becoming increasingly apparent that now is a good time to explore a new-home purchase."